One of the biggest challenges for anyone looking to change change careers is making the change. It's easy to rewrite a resume and go to networking events. It's much harder to put yourself on the line and face failure. One of my favorite thinkers is Seth Godin, who loves it when people "deliver." For someone trying to change careers, delivering begins when you go on the first interview. Delivering is also when you start to describe yourself in your new role. Change might be the most difficult thing we do as humans, but it is also the power that lets us grow and develop. Failure is part of the process, so is frustration. However, speaking for myself and the millions of other who have found happiness by changing career, every moment of sorrow will be repaid by years of satisfaction. Get out there. Find what will make you happy
Few people changed American popular culture more than Walt Disney. From Mickey Mouse to his theme parks, Disney could be said to be as creative in his field as Steve Jobs was in his. What was the secret to his success? Disney himself might have captured it best in these words:
"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Disney's words should be taken seriously by anyone looking for a new job or trying to change careers. It's important to make plans before we act. However, too often making plans becomes a substitution for doing something. If you want to make a change, follow Disney's advice -- "begin doing."
In our careers and personal lives, we all face challenges. The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden captured this problem and how to face it: "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."
A few of my clients cannot move on on their career because they spend too much time and energy looking back on lost opportunities or mistakes. I try to motivate them to look forward rather than backward. Living in the past is never a good solution. As Coach Wooden said, we are all capable of change.
One of my favorite websites Big Think featured a quotation from the great Zen teacher Alan Watts: “The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
We often resist change and hang on to what we can no longer have, or – worse still – cling to that which is not good for us. Watts’ advice is very relevant to anyone thinking about changing jobs or careers. Don’t dread the change. Dance with it.
In the April issue of Psychology Today, Joann Ellison Rodgers reports on new psychological research on anger. Traditionally anger has been seen as a negative emotion that hurts both mental and physical health. Rodgers cites several experts who have found another side of anger. They argue that anger can lead people to make changes. People who are upset are more like to try to change something.
This article made me think about many of the clients I’ve encountered over the last ten years. Of those who were currently employed, most had some grievance against their company or boss. Since the Crash of 2008, many clients have made me share their anger by telling stories of increased workloads that are reward by salary freezes or cuts. One of my recent clients is a production manager who also has a sales function. Last year he put in extra hours to help the company where he has worked for more than 10 years. While maintaining all of his production duties, he also doubled his sales numbers. He expected to receive a bonus at his annual review in December. Instead, the owner told him “times are tough” and cut his pay by 10%. That made him angry enough to look for a new job.
His story makes me angry as well, which is why I’m telling it. Too many people are working too hard and not being properly rewarded. That’s why many workers in the U.S. are very, very angry. Hopefully, they will come together and change things to make their lives better.
[“Sabbath” is this blog’s Sunday feature on topics beyond the world of jobs and careers.]
Reality Hits Home
Today I’m going to my last baseball game of this season. The Cubs will host the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field. It’s been a great year for the Braves, who are one of the best teams in either league. The Cubs, however, are a different story. They’re rebuilding, which means they’ve traded off experienced players in the hope of developing through youth. We’ll see about that strategy.
I love baseball. It’s the spring and summer game. Baseball is the sport that has spawned the greatest mythologies and most memorable statistics. However, as the season comes to an end, we realize that cold and darkness are coming. The World Series is called the Fall Classic, but many of its games are often played on 40 degree days with rain and sleet, another sign of winter’s arrival.
The end of a season also brings reflection on the season that has been. After the Cubs traded several experienced players, the team’s fans started to focus on those players that should be future stars. Two of them, Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, had miserable years, both after signing long term contracts. Castro has had two good years previous to this one. He even led the league in most hits. Rizzo had a great second half last year, showing both power and the ability to hit for average. This year both players underperformed. Similarly, the projected staff ace Jeff Samardzija was erratic. Some starts were very good, but in others he seemed to be throwing batting practice.
These are reasons for concern, maybe even despair. The great thing about baseball is that spring training starts in the dead of winter. While it’s cold and dark during February in Chicago, the Cubs will head to Arizona to start the 2014 season, a new slate. However this year ended, we fans will look for signs of a better future. And that’s the magic of baseball. Every season begins with hope.
Seth isn’t a fan of the factory model in which workers are “cogs,” not the kind of people who create change. The same thing happens when a teacher wants students to “obey first and think second.” He closes the post with these words: “The paradox is that the very people that are easiest to categorize, to command and to dominate are the last people we want to work with.”
While I agree with Godin wholeheartedly, many employers, teachers, parents (etc.) don’t. They want to “diminish” others in order to control them, and control is still the name of the game, even in our post-industrial, information society. I love Seth’s book Linchpin and want to write more about it soon. The problem is that Godin speaks for the ideal, the future we hope to build. Many people, sadly many with power, desire control over change – they will not give up the factory model.
We’ve all wanted to change something – Get a new job. Lose weight. Exercise more. Quit smoking. Save more money – this list could go on and on (and on).
“Embrace change. Recognize that change is a natural process of life. . . . Allow time to change. Focus on the process of change rather than the outcome. Be patient.”
Too often in our fast food, microwave society, we want results now – if not yesterday. We fail to change because we have developed habits that hold us back. We stick with what makes us feel comfortable and safe. Change is risky. We are afraid of it.
Smallin reminds us of a simple truth: Change is a choice, a commitment: “Reclaim the power of choice. When you let someone else make choices for you, you are giving up the power to make yourself happy.”
Many of my clients have told me very sad, even tragic, stories about being unhappy because they have followed a career path to please their parents or spouse. They listened to a college career counselor who gave “practical” advice. A job that brings us money or prestige does not always lead to happiness. Each of us has gifts, skills that we enjoy using, ways of working that are meaningful and satisfying.
To be happy in our career and our lives , we have to choose to find work that lets us use not just our skills, but also our gifts. For many people, that also means choosing – and committing – to change.